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Blagojevich Trial Starts Today

Blagojevich Trial Starts Today

Postby Happy Mom » Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:36 am

Blagojevich trial will spotlight worst elements of state's political culture
Democrats fear fallout from testimony; GOP sees chance to rebuild power

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's federal corruption trial will feature prosecutors feeding voters a steady reminder of the worst elements of Illinois' political culture — allegations that money, insider influence and personal interest drive public policy in this state.

From charges of trying to shake down a children's hospital for campaign cash to trying to peddle President Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for profit, the case will once again put Illinois politics on trial.

For Democrats, the trial represents a long-feared day of reckoning after 18 months of a Blagojevich-fueled circus. The challenge is to weather months of testimony involving pay-to-play charges as the party tries to maintain its control of state government, led by Gov. Pat Quinn, who replaced Blagojevich as governor after twice serving as his running mate.

"It's not a plus. It's not a plus," acknowledged House Speaker Michael Madigan, the veteran Southwest Side lawmaker who is chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party.

For Republicans, it's the down-and-out party's best chance in a decade to convince voters they deserve another shot at running Illinois. The GOP is trying to regain relevancy that evaporated after a federal corruption investigation that ended with the imprisonment of former Republican Gov. George Ryan.

Watch for Republicans to run TV ads that link Blagojevich and any damaging trial testimony to their Democratic opponents. It's the same approach that Blagojevich used in winning two statewide elections, tarring both his opponents with the taint of the Ryan scandal. And some GOP campaigns already are exploring the possibility.

Democrats know they will be forced to play defense, and some will try to point out ties between Blagojevich and longtime Republicans to contend that corruption was not unique to one political party.

"I don't think it's going to be good for Democrats," said Christopher Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield. "Quinn inoculated himself pretty well from Blagojevich. But Blagojevich, himself, wrote the book on this. He's taught us how to take a person not associated in any way with taint and link them at the hip."

Amid the attempts at political opportunism, the Blagojevich trial also threatens to drag into the spotlight prominent national Democrats, from former Chicago congressman and current White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his top deputy, Illinois' senior senator, Dick Durbin.

continued.... ... 2076.story
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